Pilates is a form of exercise that was initially developed by a German called Joseph Pilates who was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. Pilates was a sickly child who suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever and as a result was encouraged by his parents to do exercise and sports. His method of self improvement was so successful that he worked as a model.
During WW1 he was interned on the Isle of Man and taught his fellow captives his method of exercise as a means of maintaining their health and fitness levels. Following the war after a brief spell back in his native Germany, he emigrated to the US and settled in New York where he and his wife Clara opened the first Pilates studio. By the 1950’s dancers were his most loyal supporters, followed closely by actors and actresses, sportsmen and women, and the rich and famous – all of whom were attracted to a method of exercise which focuses on strength and flexibility.
Joseph Pilates died in 1967 but his method of exercise was passed on through both writings and his many students. Pilates was first introduced to the UK in 1970 although the popularity of the method didn’t really develop until the late 80’s and 90’s. Now there are many institutions and private instructors all whom teach variations of Joseph Pilates’ technique of physical fitness.